Cahererillan Castle, near Kinvara in Galway, is a 14th century tower house that was once a stronghold of the O’Heynes or O’Shaughnessy families, two of the most influential clans in the region. Today, it stands as a testament to the medieval architecture and heritage of Ireland.
The castle has five storeys and is rectangular in shape, with four corner turrets and a projecting entrance. It is built of limestone and has a crenellated parapet on the top. The walls are about 1.5 meters thick and have narrow windows and loopholes. The interior of the castle is not accessible, but it is believed to have had a vaulted basement, a great hall, a solar chamber, and several smaller rooms.
The history of Cahererillan Castle is not very well documented, but it is likely that it was built by the O’Heynes family, who were lords of Aidhne, an ancient kingdom that covered most of south Galway. The O’Heynes were allies of the O’Briens of Thomond, and fought against the Anglo-Norman invaders in the 12th and 13th centuries. However, by the 14th century, they had lost much of their lands and power to the O’Shaughnessys, who were also of Gaelic origin but had adopted Norman customs and laws.
The O’Shaughnessy’s became the dominant clan in south Galway, and built several castles in the area, including Dunguaire Castle, which is located 3.5 km north of Cahererillan Castle. It is possible that Cahererillan Castle changed hands between the O’Heynes and the O’Shaughnessy’s over the years, depending on the political and military situation. The castle may have also been involved in some of the conflicts that plagued Ireland in the 16th and 17th centuries, such as the Nine Years’ War, the Cromwellian conquest, and the Williamite War.
The last recorded owner of Cahererillan Castle was John O’Shaughnessy, who died in 1784. After his death, the castle fell into ruin and was abandoned. It is now under the care of the Office of Public Works, but it is not restored or maintained.
The castle is not open to the public, but you can admire it from the road or from a distance. It is surrounded by green fields and trees, and offers a stunning contrast to the blue sky and sea.
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